Library Services


Orwell Book Collection


Literature, translations, journalism


Ca. 2300 items

Scope and content

The Orwell Book Collection consists of rare and early editions of Orwell’s works, translations of his works into other languages, books from his own library and reference material. It complements the Orwell Archive.

The collection includes copies of the first editions of all of Orwell’s novels, many in their original dustjackets. Some are inscribed by the author. There are also issues of periodicals that contain Orwell’s journalistic work, such as Partisan Review. In addition, the collection contains many rare and early translations of Orwell’s works, such as the first translations of Animal Farm into Russian (1950) and Burmese (1951), and the first translation of Nineteen Eighty-Four into German (1950).

The books from Orwell’s own library number ca. 350. They represent part of Orwell’s library at the time of his death in 1950; the remainder of his books were bequeathed to his second wife Sonia Brownell and his sister Avril Dunn. Some books are inscribed by the authors. Others include inscriptions by Orwell’s family members. Orwell himself does not appear to have annotated his books.


Orwell’s own books were purchased from Orwell’s executor Richard Rees. Many of the editions and translations of Orwell’s works were donated by Sonia Brownell and by the Orwell estate's literary agency, A. M. Heath.

Finding aids and published descriptions

Dustjacket of the first impression of the first edition of Nineteen Eighty-Four (ORWELL COLLECTION DUSTJACKETS)

For a complete list of the books known to have been owned by Orwell at the time of his death, see Peter Davison (ed.), The Complete Works of George Orwell. Volume Twenty: Our Job is to Make Life Worth Living, 1949-1950 (London: Secker & Warburg, 1998), pp. 286-299.



The collection is fully catalogued. To browse the records, conduct a search for ORWELLCOLLECTION, without spaces, on Explore.